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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Communications: Incoming telephone calls: dealing with incoming telephone calls

You should never disclose any information we hold on file about an estate during an incoming telephone call. In most instances this is quite reasonable as the executor or agent should already have the information.

You must always ask the caller to provide the information then check it against the information we hold. You must not give out any new information.

For example, a caller may ring to ask whether we have received a particular item, such as a Deed of Variation (IHTM35011) or account form IHT100 (IHTM10501). Even if you have verified the identity of the caller, you still need to be careful. Simply confirming we have received an item may inform the caller that it exists, a fact that they may not have known for certain. You should deal with this situation by returning the call, once you have checked their number against the details we hold on the file.

In any case where you are asked to give fresh information to a customer who has called us you should always take the extra precaution of ringing the caller back before passing any information on.

You should tell the caller that you will need to call them back once you have looked at the file. When the call has ended check that the number given by the caller is the same as the number you hold for them on COMPASS or on the paper correspondence held on file

If the numbers are the same you can return the call and pass on any information they are entitled to.

It is not enough to just check that the number the caller has given you matches the one on our file. You may already have checked that the numbers match using the telephone note template (IHTM02151). In all cases where we are supplying information you must actually ring the customer to make sure that the caller is who they say they are

If the caller does not want you to ring back you should tell them this is an additional security procedure and you cannot give them any information unless you do so. Tell them you will phone back straightaway and do so.

This restriction on giving out information on incoming telephone calls includes details such as the amount of Inheritance Tax due on an estate and when the customer can expect a repayment.